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And It's Anger Leading Pride by a Nose...

Tuesday, June 29, 2004
Wondering which deadly sin is currently in the lead? This graph from the folks at BlogPulse tells you which sin is being being talked about most in the blogging community. (And you thought it was lust. Get your mind out of the gutter!)

| posted by Ann D @ 2:10 PM

Addicted to (Mother) Love

An article in today's edition of The New York Times ("Addicted to Mother Love: It's Biology, Stupid" by Benedict Carey) describes some new research from Emery University which indicates that the brain chemical responsible for maternal-child bonding in mice is opiate in nature. "This latest study is the largest and best of its kind and provides very strong evidence that maternal support has an opiate component," notes one prominent researcher who is quoted in the article.

| posted by Ann D @ 7:00 AM

Fun With Sidebars!

Monday, June 28, 2004
I've added all kinds of new material to the sidebar of this blog:

  • copies of all my various pregnancy and parenting tip sheets (they're in .pdf format, so you have to have a copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader installed to be able to read them)

  • the beginning of a list of "Motherhood Essentials" that I intend to add to over time

  • a list of the books I enjoyed most when I was a kid (some of these books are hilariously dated now, as you'll see if you click through and read the descriptions at Amazon.com)

  • a list of the books I'm reading right now (yes, I always seem to end up reading about five books simultaneously: it's just the way things work out in my reading life)

  • a list of books that have made a serious difference in my life over the years (when I have a bit more time, I'll blog about the reasons why I included each of these books)

  • a list of my current musical obsessions

  • links to the websites of some artists whose work I totally adore (again I'll be expanding this category over time.

Those of you who have read my books know that I am addicted to sidebars. In fact, I think that 26 out of my 27 books have had sidebars. In honour of Canada Day and the launch of my newly expanded sidebar content, I'm going to offer a free autographed copy of my book Canuck Chicks and Maple Leaf Mamas to the first reader of this blog who can correctly identify the one book I've written that doesn't have sidebars. On your mark, get set, go!

| posted by Ann D @ 1:31 PM

My Summertime Plans

Saturday, June 26, 2004
I am totally loving the summertime plans thread over in Keri Smith's Wish Jar Journal. The entries are incredibly creative and inspiring -- the kind you want to print out and use to wallpaper your office wall! She's inspired me to start my own list of things I want to do this summer. Here goes....

  • Enjoy some twilight paddleboat rides and moonlit chats on the porch at the cottage with that cute guy I picked up in Grade 10 geography class. (That would be my husband Neil.)

  • Treat my daughter Julie to a manicure and pedicure at my favourite spa. (She's planning to bring along black nailpolish.) :-)

  • Spend some time watching funny movies with my son Scott. (He's a huge fan of Planes, Trains, and Automobiles and other John Candy classics.)

  • Get some archery pointers from my son Erik. (Warning: Don't show up at our cottage unexpectedly or you may end up getting smucked with an arrow.)

  • Paint rocks with my son Ian. (He's collected a bucket full so far.)

  • Celebrate my Dad's 75th birthday with him in a memorable way. He's a totally awesome Dad. (He's also just finished writing a book. Stay tuned for more about that.)

  • Entertain family and friends at the cottage. (I just bought a bunch of ultra-tacky fish plates at Canadian Tire. Gotta put them to use!)

  • Gather up a bunch of girlfriends and head to the movies. (I want to see The Stepford Wives. Don't ask me why.)

  • Spend some time reading the cascading style sheets books that I ordered a few weeks ago. (I want to get a head start on my next round of Web design courses.)

  • Write some stuff just for fun, with no deadlines attached. (Really creative, from the heart stuff.)

  • Find 1001 other ways to enjoy the great Canadian summer. (It's far too short.)

| posted by Ann D @ 7:51 PM

Pregnant Pause

I just stumbled across some adorable pregnancy drawings at Penelopeillustration.com. If you check out the online folio, be sure to click on images 2, 3, and 26. They are my favorites.

| posted by Ann D @ 7:43 PM

Just When You Think You've Read It All...

You just need to start hitting the blog trail. Over at Chez Miscarriage, getupgrrl has come up with an interesting way to mess with your gynecologist's head: replace the name of your gynecological bits with the names of IKEA products!

| posted by Ann D @ 6:54 PM

Sex in the Suburbs

Friday, June 25, 2004
If you want to read some very powerful writing about mothers and sex, check out the "Sex in the Suburbs" column at LiteraryMama.com. "Just Us Always" is the author's very personal reminiscences about her pre-kid sex life while "Mama Tried" is a very funny piece about mom and daughter conversations about sex. This is some of the most frank and honest writing about mothers and sex that I've ever stumbled across. It's definitely worth checking out.

| posted by Ann D @ 10:04 PM

Buffet-Style Blogging

I just came across a very old entry in Mom and Pop Culture that has some very interesting things to say about the personalities that come through in a blog. This has got me thinking a lot about my own blog -- specifically whether I confuse my readers with the eclectic assortment of goodies I tend to serve up. I mean, one minute I'm presenting statistics and factoids galore and the next minute I'm rambling on about my current projects, my angst du jour, etc. So I'd like to pose this question to the universe: is it okay to take a buffet approach to blogging -- to serve up a little bit of this and a little bit of that? Or is it best to serve up the same predictable meatloaf or chicken casserole day after day? Any thoughts?

| posted by Ann D @ 9:35 PM

Five New Tip Sheets

I have uploaded five new tip sheets to the articles page of my Having-a-baby.com website. The tip sheets include

  • "Conception Countdown" (preconception tips)

  • "Just Say Spahhh": Spa Do's and Don'ts During Pregnancy (pregnancy spa tips)

  • "Your Top Ten Pregnancy Sex Questions Answered" (questions about sex during pregnancy)

  • "Back to School Survival Guide" (tips on getting ready to send the kids back to school) and

  • "Winter Family Fitness" (tips on staying active as a family throughout the winter months).

I realize the last two tips sheets are a little out of season, and, yes, I realize it's more than a little ironic that I uploaded the "Back to School Survival Guide" on the very day that my kids got out of school. You can read between the lines on that one! :-)

| posted by Ann D @ 11:18 AM

The (Other) Divine Ms. M

Thursday, June 24, 2004
I am very thrilled that the supremely talented Martha Brockenbrough -- author of It Could Happen to You: Diary of a Pregnancy and Beyond -- has picked me as this week's featured reader on her Mommy Chronicles website.

Martha has one of the most beautifully designed websites out there. In fact, it was Martha's website and Andi Buchanan's Mother Shock website that inspired me to go back to school to study web design this past year. (Regular readers of this blog will know that I'm taking online courses through the B.C. Institute of Technology.)

Anyway, thanks very much for choosing me as this week's featured reader and for saying such nice things about me, Martha. You made my day!

| posted by Ann D @ 7:53 PM

Sleeping Like a Baby

A recent study conducted by Decima Research Group on behalf of Johnson and Johnson revealed that only one in three parents describe their baby as being an excellent sleeper. The researchers found that 59% of Canadian parents admit to having difficulty getting their baby to sleep one to four nights a week.

Unfortunately, the researchers didn't think to investigate what percentage of parents attending prenatal class reunions tend to oversell their newborns' sleep accomplishments (e.g., defining any four to five hour block of sleep that happens to occur between dusk and dawn as "sleeping through the night"). Now that would make for an interesting study....

| posted by Ann D @ 3:30 PM


Wednesday, June 23, 2004
I just launched a new website to highlight some of the best online pregnancy resources. It's called Pregnancylibrary.com. Check it out when you have a moment. I'm going to be adding to the list of resources on an ongoing basis, so please feel free to give me a heads up if you know of a truly fabulous resource that I should include. I want to make this website as useful as possible to moms-to-be.

| posted by Ann D @ 4:27 PM

Toddler Talk

Tuesday, June 22, 2004
Things are positively hopping over at the Cheerios Toddler Nutrition forum I'm hosting this week over at Todaysparent.com. Come on over and join in the fun. We're talking about toddlers throwing food, wanting to eat all day long, or refusing to eat at all -- you know, all the usual fare!

| posted by Ann D @ 9:34 AM

What Not To Give Dad for Father's Day

Friday, June 18, 2004
Left your Father's Day shopping to the last minute? One thing you won't want to give Dad is a copy of the latest Ipsos-Reid-Reader's Digest survey on parenting. The researchers found that while 92% of Canadian teens gave their moms an "A" or a "B" for their parenting skills, only 65% felt that their dads deserved the same marks. Dads don't deserve the same marks as moms, according to Canadian teens, because they lose their cool, lecture kids rather than discussing things, and they don't have good fashion sense. (Talk about a tough panel of judges. Who knew your kids were grading you for your wardrobe smarts?)

| posted by Ann D @ 9:34 AM

That's the Way the Cookie Crumbles

Thursday, June 17, 2004
Today's Business Week Online reports that the Girl Scouts have taken to hiring OldDebts.com to collect from (1) the deadbeats who place big cookie orders, and then don't take the cookies when delivery day rolls around; and (2) the parents of Girls Scouts who fail to turn in their daughters' cash. Fortunately, 99% people play nice with the Girl Scouts: only about 1% of cookie orders post a problem, but -- as someone who has done her time in the Girl Guide cookie trenches (Girl Guides being the Canadian counterpart to Girl Scouts), I can tell you those 1% of customers can take a lot of the fun out of a cookie campaign! So if you're thinking of playing nasty with your friendly, neighborhood Girl Scout, think twice. The Cookie Police are watching you.

| posted by Ann D @ 11:35 AM

Playing With Knives

Wednesday, June 16, 2004
According to a story in Monday's New York Post ("Teen Breast Quest: Boob Jobs Hot New Gift for Girl Grads" by Jeane MacIntosh), breast surgery has become the must-have gift for the daughters of the rich and neurotic. The numbers of 18-year-olds who underwent breast-implant surgery nearly tripled between 2002 and 2003, jumping from 3,872 to 11,326.

This reminded me of a statistic that my daughter Julie and I stumbled across a couple of years ago when we were researching our book Body Talk: The Straight Goods About Fitness, Nutrition, and Feeling Great About Yourself. We discovered that a former Miss Brazil had undergone 23 separate cosmetic surgery procedures prior to scooping first place beauty pageant honors.

| posted by Ann D @ 4:27 PM

In Praise of Slow

There's an interesting article in today's Globe and Mail by Carl Honoré -- the author of In Praise of Slow. Honoré talks about how he knew it was time to slow down when he found himself skipping over chunks of The Cat in the Hat when he was reading his son bedtime stories because it took too long to read the whole book. I checked the Globe's website, but I couldn't find the article online, unfortunately. There are some book excerpts on Honoré's website, however, so you might want to check that out instead if you want to get a handle on the joys of enjoying life in the slow -- or slower -- lane.

| posted by Ann D @ 9:23 AM

Cheerios Chat and Cheerios Chatter

Tuesday, June 15, 2004
I'm going to be hosting a week-long toddler nutrition chat for Cheerios over at Todaysparent.com next week. (It's the whole reason I'm on the Cheerios box right now.) So if you or someone else you know wants to talk about the joys and challenges of feeding a toddler, I hope you'll join in on the fun. We'll be serving virtual Cheerios as hors d'oeuvres, naturally! Here's the special link you need to use to access the chat. You won't find the chat listed on the regular chat page.

If we were doing the Cheerios chat face-to-face at my place, I'd crack open one of the 16 boxes of Cheerios I have sitting in my office right now. (I'm planning to take a couple of boxes to share with my friends at the Rotary Club of Peterborough Kawartha when I speak there on Thursday morning. They're a breakfast club, so it's kind of fitting, don't you think?)

| posted by Ann D @ 8:17 PM

Just Catching Up with the World O' Blogging

There were some really great -- and some really funny -- posts made last week when I was busy working. (Don't you hate it when your working life gets in the way of your blogging life? What's THAT about?!!)

Anyway, here are a few tidbits that caught my eye while I was surveying the world of blogs in my usual oh-so-scientific way.

In her June 9th post, spastic mommyhead had some rather strong words about one of those rude questions that people feel entitled to ask you when they get wind of the fact that you've hit the reproductive jackpot: "Was it planned or was it a surprise?"

In her June 8th post, MomBrain had a very funny story to tell about how the creative editing of one her magazine pieces is making people think she has sex on the MomBrain.

And in his June 8th post, Laid-Off Dad had some bang-on and too true things to say about the tyranny of Crayola's Mess-Free Color Wonder System.

Very funny stuff all around....

| posted by Ann D @ 4:11 PM

Fun With (Health) Numbers

Attention data junkies! Statistics Canada has released the results of its 2003 Canadian Community Health Survey. I can't wait to pour through this data myself, but -- given the length of today's "to do" list, that particular adventure will have to wait for another day.

| posted by Ann D @ 1:46 PM

Book Expo Canada

Monday, June 14, 2004
I spent the day at Book Expo Canada -- the Canadian publishing industry's combination trade fair and love-in. Every year I hope like heck that one of my publishers will invite me to do an author event at one of their booths so that I can experience the thrill of signing and giving away copies of my books to the truly hardcore book lovers who come to this annual event -- incurable types like me!

Every once in a while, you hear about some author who hates signing books. I just don't get it. To me, it's one of the biggest thrills of being an author: getting to write a personal message in your book to the person who is going to read it. What could be cooler than that?

You also get to hear the most amazing things about your books. Today, for example, I heard about two women who each got pregnant within one week after picking up signed copies of The Mother of All Pregnancy Books at last year's Book Expo Canada event. Maybe that's why Wiley decided to hand out copies of The Mother of All Baby Books and The Mother of All Toddler Books this year -- possible concerns about being hit with third-party paternity lawsuits! :-)

| posted by Ann D @ 11:34 PM

Neighborhood Fun Day

Wednesday, June 09, 2004
I'm in the midst of a campaign for Sunlight, promoting the benefits of active play. (We really need to sell this generation of kids on the joy of good, old-fashioned play -- heading outside and building forts rather than surfing the Internet in search of a software game that promises a virtual fort-building experience!)

Anyway, one of the things I've been talking about a lot during the campaign is the importance of joining forces with other parents on your block. After all, your kids aren't going to be terribly keen about playing outside if there's no one else to play with!

One of the things you can do to get all the kids in your neighborhood excited about playing outdoors is to organize your own Neighborhood Fun Day. (Don't worry -- this is a low-maintenance, high-fun activity for parents and for kids. The reason is simple: I am incapable of pulling off anything but!) :-)

| posted by Ann D @ 11:11 AM

"Deep River" Days

I also heard this week from someone who knew me back in the late 1980s (1986-88, to be specific) when I was living in Deep River, Ontario -- a beautiful little town on the Ottawa River. Neil and I were newlyweds. He was working at the nuclear demonstration plant (NPD) and I was writing for the local newspaper and working as a billing clerk for the local hydro utility. We bought our first house in Deep River -- for $40,000! (Yes, real estate prices were very attractive in Deep River.)

We also managed to conceive our first child in Deep River -- a child who is now old enough to surf the Internet. (This is what you get for reading Mommy's blog, Baby Number 1!) :-)

Anyway, it was fun remembering my Deep River days.

| posted by Ann D @ 8:24 AM

Doing Battle With My Personal Nemesis

I am slowly but surely learning how to do battle with my own personal nemesis -- technology. While some of you bloggers are total whiz kids when it comes to uploading this and downloading that and doing totally amazing things with your templates, every little trick I've learned has been learned rather painstakingly.

Because I realized last year that I was never going to be able to accomplish half the cool things I wanted to do online unless I increased my skills in this area a gizillion-fold, I started taking online courses through the BC Institute of Technology last fall. The courses have been really challenging, but I've learned so much. I'm currently taking my fourth and fifth courses through the program and I can't wait to have some spare time this summer to do some major fiddling around online. (A word to the wise: Do you backups now in case I manage to bring down the entire Internet!)

| posted by Ann D @ 8:15 AM

I Called Her!

Monday, June 07, 2004
I called my former teacher and she remembered me. She is still every bit as wonderful as I remember her being. I can't wait to arrange a time to visit her in person in August. I am experiencing the kind of on-top-of-the-world feeling I typically only experience when I finish writing a book -- and I didn't have to type 150,000 words to get here!

| posted by Ann D @ 1:36 PM

Blast from the Past Time

Friday, June 04, 2004
I had the most wonderful e-mail the other day -- an e-mail from a girl (now a 40-year-old woman!) who was in my class in Grade 8. She caught one of my TV appearances the other day and e-mailed me to ask if I was the same person she had gone to school with in Mississauga all those years ago.

I recognized her name immediately. She was one of the few "cool kids" in Grade 8 who was actually nice to me. (I was, at the time, a card-carrying member of the International Order of Fat Girls -- something that pretty much doomed you to life on the social sidelines.)

Anyway, it was so great catching up with this long-lost friend via e-mail and it looks like we're going to be able to have coffee together next week. I am so excited!

This friend also passed along the phone number of a teacher that I've been trying to track down for about 20 years -- the teacher who predicted that I would grow up to be a writer! I'm planning to put a call into that teacher this weekend. I hope she remembers me and that she's as eager to reconnect with me as I am with her. She made a huge difference in my life back at a time when I was a lonely, unhappy sixth grader. This teacher took the time to read the gizillions of extra stories that I wrote just for fun, and she once told me that she felt sure that I was going to grow up to be a beautiful woman. (At the time, I was convinced I was the ugliest, geekiest, most hideous 11 year old on the planet, so it was totally mind boggling to have someone express that kind of blind faith in me.) Like I said, she was an amazing teacher....

And speaking of former teachers, I recently had the opportunity to have lunch with another former teacher who also did a fabulous job of mentoring and encouraging me during those rocky junior high school years. (You couldn't pay me a million dollars to go back to junior high school again, you know!) I caught up with this teacher during a recent book tour in the St. Catharines area.

It's been kind of neat taking these strolls down memory lane, especially since I recently turned 40. It seems like a kind of appropriate time to be simultaneously looking back, looking forward, and taking stock of all the wonderful people I have (and have had) in my life.

One final post before I sign off. Just got an e-mail from my friend B. She has finally found Mr. Right after a few years of having the men on the planet seriously underestimate her goddessness. All I can say is it's about time that someone finally clued in to what this woman is about. I am doing a serious happy dance for B.! Woo hoo!

| posted by Ann D @ 1:23 PM

The Rollercoaster Ride of Parenting

Wednesday, June 02, 2004
Mom in the Mirror has an interesting post about the ying and yang of parenting -- why the good times of parenting must inevitably be followed by the bad times of parenting. It's definitely worth checking out if you're feeling frustrated because your toddler just threw a huge tantrum after the two of you had a fabulous morning at the park -- or your teen just had a hissy fit because you only gave her $20 to spend at the amusement park, not the $50 she was counting on! (Hey, at least you got to hop on board the rollercoaster for free -- the parenting rollercoaster, that is!)

| posted by Ann D @ 6:17 PM